Frogkisser by Garth Nix | 1 Minute Reviews

Let it be known that I love a good tongue in cheek fairytale inspired story.

We have such a wealth of tales well known to us, thanks to Brother’s Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen or even Walt Disney, and I absolutely love stories that take those tropes and mix them up.

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Enter Frogkisser, the latest novel from Garth Nix – an absolutely glorious middle grade romp of Princesses, magic and transformed creatures. Oh, but be sure – this is not the story of the princess and the frog as you know it (this includes the much under-rated Disney version).

Princess Anya is determined to be a sorcerer; being second in line to the throne means freedom from worrying about ruling… although if her sister was a tiny bit more serious she wouldn’t have to worry so much. When their actually evil step-step-father Duke Ricard turns Morven’s latest suitor Prince Denholm into a frog, Anya takes pity and decides to set out to gather the ingredients for a magical lip balm to return him to his rightful form.

Allied with Royal Dog Ardent, Anya’s quest quickly becomes more complex, in no small part due to an honourable band of robbers, a very good wizard and a boy transformed into a giant orange newt. Can she return Denholm (and all the other transformed creatures desperate for her help) before evil Duke Ricard captures her?

With absurdism and wit reminiscent of Pratchett, Frogkisser is an absolute joy that had me weeping with laughter on many occasions. Nix captures dogs with such a knowing smile, and imbues Anya with such courage and kindness that you can’t help but root for her.

This is one of my favourite books so far this year. Pure joy, silliness and magic; really what more could you want?

Interested? Buy it here.

What to read next:

Thank you to Piccadilly Press & Bonnier Zaffre for sharing a copy with me!

The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell | 1 Minute Reviews

Have you been looking for something magical? An adventure to another world that mirrors our own?

The Crooked Sixpence, Book 1 of the new Uncommoners series, stands as one of my favourite middle grade novels of last year. Now is a great time to start, with book 2 coming along in June!

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When her home is ransacked, Ivy escapes to the under London world of Lundinor with mysterious Valian and her brother Seb, to find out what happened to her gramma on the Twelfth Night. Lundinor, which reminds me ever so much of Diagon Alley, is a world where common objects possess magical powers and where Ivy realises she belongs after all, provided the Dirge don’t get her and her family first.

I’m positive, this is going to be The book series for this generation. Written by children’s bookseller, Jennifer Bell, The Crooked Sixpence contains all the ingredients for the perfect children’s book – magic, excitement, hope and freedom.

Recommended from ages 8 up as there are some scary bits with the Dirge, but if your child has read Harry Potter and is okay with Death Eaters, they will be with this. Adults will also love this – I recommend you pinch your child’s copy afterwards.

Interested? Get it here!

What to read next:

Thank you to Penguin for sending me the copy to review.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin | 1 Minute Reviews

The Thing About Jellyfish is an impressive middle grade book about coping with the death of a friend, growing up and growing apart, and an obsession with jellyfish.

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When Suzy’s best friend drowns, she decides that it is jellyfish to blame, and sets out on a mission to prove to everyone that it was the jellyfish. Approaching the world of jellyfish with a fervour, Suzy reaches out to scientists, pouring her grief into determination.

Touching, sad and absolutely filled with fascinating jellyfish facts, I really recommend this first novel from Ali Benjamin. All editions also include stunning jellyfish illustrations.

Also, I recommend getting the hardback and removing the dust jacket – the yellow cover with the sparkly jellyfish is stunning!

Suitable for ages 9+.

Interested? Get it hereGet it here.

What to read next:

Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sharing this copy with me.

George by Alex Gino | 1 Minute Reviews

George is a girl, who just wants to be Charlotte, not Wilbur, in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. But everything keeps calling her a boy. Will anyone ever listen to her?

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Alex Gino’s middle grade novel about trans girl George is simply a delight, that will be enjoyed by all ages 9+.

One of my favourite things is that Gino’s book uses “she” pronouns for George all along; simple but makes an important statement that trans people are the gender they say they are and always have been. George has always been a she, even if other people couldn’t see that.

This is a fantastic Own Voices trans novel to share with younger people.

Interested? Get it here in hardback or preorder the paperback here.

What to read next:

Bird by Crystal Chan | 1 Minute Reviews

Despite being for 9-12 age group, Bird is a complex, blunt, aching description of a family trying to hold together after the death of a child.

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John, or Bird, dies long before the novel begins but is so tangible and present in the lives of Jewel and her family.

Jewel and her new friend (also named John) are amazingly rich characters, sharing their passions for geology and space with each other, forming a very believable passionate friendship.

Crystal Chan also touches on feelings of being outside, through great explanations of why “where are you from, no where are you really from” is invasive, and how balancing your family’s culture in a different country is difficult.

Rich with Jamaican history and a great insight into a complicated family, dealing with the death of a child. Her growing relationship with her grandfather, leading to understanding of her family dynamics and history, is touching and reminiscent of The Hour of the Bees.

Bird is a really great book that deserves all the praise it has been getting, and for me should be getting much more than that. Get out and read!

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave | 1 Minute Reviews

Note: In America this book is known as The Cartographer’s Daughter.

The Girl of Ink and Stars is a great adventure and a future classic.

Isabella is a budding cartographer whose skills are required when one girl is murdered and another runs away, lost in the island’s Forgotten Territories. But who killed the girl, why are the animals fleeing to the sea, and what is that churning feeling in her stomach?

Were the stories her Da told her just stories, or could the myths of Arintara be real?

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Dressing as a boy, Isa escapes her home and goes to rescue her missing friend, while determined to solve the mysteries of the island of Joya.

Isa is a great heroine, brave and a little reckless, and in Joya, Hargrave has created a fascinating world. This is a lyrical, wonderful story of friendship. A book to read and to pass on to all the women you know.

In the British edition, the pages are decorated with cartography symbols. It really is one of the most beautiful children’s books.

This is a powerful debut children’s novel from poet Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and has been shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by an Author of Colour and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. I personally believe it should win both.

Suitable for children aged 9 and up. This is a great novel for adventurous girls that shows they can be the main character not just the sidekick.

Interested? Get it here.

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How to Look for a Lost Dog by Ann M. Martin | 1 Minute Reviews

Note: This book carries the title Rain Reign in the USA. 

I knew that I was going to love a book about an autistic girl written by the author of the Baby-Sitter’s Club, but I did not expect how much it would creep into my heart.

Rose loves homophones and prime numbers and her dog Rain, who her father found one night behind the bar he goes to every day. While hiding out during Hurricane Susan, Rose’s father Wesley lets out Rain without putting on her collar and she disappears.

Determined to find her beloved Rain (Reign) again, Rose sets out an action plan of calling Animal Shelters, determined to find her best friend along with the help of her uncle Weldon. Will they find her?

Rose is courageous and brilliant, and her Uncle Weldon is officially the best man.

I’m not going to lie to you – this book is pretty heartbreaking. Ann M. Martin balances an accurate, well researched 1st person autism narrative against the heartache of losing a friend and the background of emotional abuse by her father.

It’s also incredibly beautiful and heartwarming against all the sadness.

Interested? Buy How to Look for a Lost Dog here.

Buy Rain Reign here. <- I LOVE this cover as much as the British version.

What to read next:

Want to know what else I’ve read about autism or features autistic characters? Check out The Essential Autie Book List.

Thank you kindly to Usborne for sending me over How to Look for a Lost Dog. It will stay in my heart for a very long time.